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ITA-Lufthansa: Air France is against merger

Possible appeal by French airline weighs on the EU Competition Commission decision

The Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), led by Giancarlo Giorgetti, and the German aviation group Lufthansa are concerned about the rigidity with which the European Competition Commission, led by Marghrethe Vestager, is carrying out the evaluation of the dossier for the privatization of the Italian national carrier ITA Airways. And the competitors rejoice: in the lead is the French-Dutch group Air France-KLM.

There is a real pressure from the French airline. In fact, by 6 June 2024 the European Competition Commission will have to advise on the Mef-Lufthansa agreement, which provides for the privatization of 41% of the share capital of ITA Airways. The electoral tensions for the renewal of the European Parliament (6-9 June 2024), as well as the sector lobbies and the ITA's budget in the red, contribute to complicating the green light from Brussels.

Given the current political dynamics, there is a risk that the French lobby will weigh on the decision of the commission led by Vestager. Last month, in fact, when Vestager was running for the helm of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Italy did not support his candidacy. At the same time, Brussels wants to avoid any decision being challenged and it is therefore carefully analyzing the European skies market.

But the appeal could come from Paris rather than from Rome. In fact, the airline Air France is watching the ITA-Lufthansa marriage with extreme attention. The reason? The French flag airline has always feared the ramification of some connections towards the nerve centers of Europe. Which is why he had repeatedly targeted first Alitalia and then ITA.

"The feeling is that today in Brussels the concerns of Air France weigh more than the interests of Rome and Berlin to close the issue on ITA. Furthermore, as requested by the European Union", writes the Italian newspaper "La Stampa", which quotes a source close to the European dossier. In short, when Brussels postponed the decision (which was supposed to be taken in January 2024) on the ITA-Lufthansa marriage, asking the two spouses to make further 'remedies' (transfer of slots and intercontinental flights), it was to avoid the wrath of Paris.

On the topic, see also the article published by AVIONEWS.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency